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‘Alien: Convenant’ fails to impress (some spoilers!!!)

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The newest installment in the ‘Alien’ franchise hit the silver screen today, and as fans of the beloved franchise leave the theater, many are going to find themselves severely disappointed.

The ‘Alien’ film series is the brainchild of legendary director Ridley Scott, but after seeing ‘Alien Covenant’ it may be clear that the director needs to hand over the reigns if he wishes for these films to be original, and not just another money making mongrel at the theater.

The film opens up with a brief cameo from Guy Pearce reprising his role as Peter Weyland, the inventor of “David” the artificial life simulation played by Michael Fassbender. Fassbender was the highlight of the of the ‘Alien’ prequel, ‘Prometheus,’ but as ‘Covenant’ carries on its predicable story he is that same character, which causes the film to go from a decent horror flick to upright ridiculous.

Fassbender in this film is not only playing “David,” but is now playing another artificial life character, named “Walter.” In the opening scene, we discover that “David” was actually named after the idea of perfection behind the infamous “Statue of David,” but they never describe why the second Fassbender was named Walter. Is it important to the story? The answer is probably not, but this film seems to play off of references from other films, so one thinks that an enhanced version of the “idea of perfection” may have a more significant name.

The film follows the story of 15 passengers on the “Covenant” space craft with the sole mission of getting to a new world, over seven years away, in order to repopulate the human race. The crew is composed mostly of couples and married people who were chosen because they wanted them to develop families in this new world.

The space vessel is manned by “Walter” as the rest of the crew are in a cryogenic state. Everything goes wrong while the “Covenant” needs to go through its scheduled charging phase, and the ship is severely damaged by some form of electromagnetic anomaly. This shock prematurely awakens the crew, and kills the captain of the ship, who for some reason is played by James Franco. Now James Franco has performed in some fantastic films, so this is no knock on him, but he is never actually seen in the film in person because his cryogenic chamber is unable to open because he has caught on fire during the anomaly, and he is burned to death for some reason that is never explained. Franco is only seen in the film through a few photographs, and a video that his wife, “Danny,” played by Katherine Waterston, watches as she reflects on her love. This part could have literally been played by anyone, but making it James Franco just did not make any impact besides audience members saying, “O look James Franco, why is he here?”

The new captain of the “Covenant,” Christopher Oram, played by Billy Crudrup, then steps up the to bat, and from the moment he was captain, it seemed like he never really knew what he was doing, so why was he put in charge of being captain over the lives of thirteen other people. The crew shortly receives a transmission from a nearby planet and shows what the crew believes to be a woman. Oram decides that it is a good idea to completely abandon the mission they planned for, and go to a planet that they have no knowledge of, and whose conditions are completely unknown, just because it is a few weeks away. It is probably ok to take a short cut to repopulating the Earth right? That’s not that big of a deal.

The pilot of the “Covenant,” Tennessee, played by Danny McBride, sends the crew down to the planet on a vessel, while he and a few others get stuck up in space because a hurricane is occurring on the planet, which has caused communications to go down with the rest of the crew on the planet, which discover is the same one found in the previous film by Elizabeth Shaw and her team. Without giving away the whole movie, a few members of the crew are shortly infected, and the story takes off in a traditional “Alien” manner.

Why was the movie so dull? Well, the reason it is boring is because it is predicable from the moment it starts.The first ‘Alien’ was also predictable, but Scott knew how to deliver some fantastic scenes that were chilling and eerie especially for the time it came out in. This new chapter did not add anything to the canon, but instead made it kind of meaningless. It summed the entire series up to, here is a robot who wants to play God and wants to see the human race killed off because they are not worthy like his new pets, the enhanced xenomorphs he has bred.

Once the “David” shows up and starts interacting with the other Fassbender, “Walter” it starts to get a little cringey, especially when we see the two of them playing a musical recorder together. The icing on the cake was seeing the two of them fist fight, that was the point where the film completely lost its credibility.

Throughout the rest of the film, the crew fights for their lives, but eventually lead to a very anticlimactic end scene, which leaves almost no lasting impression.

Visually the film was fantastic. Between the horrifying beauty that is the xenomorph, recreated by using both special effects, and by using an actor in a superb costume. The planet they land on was created beautifully as well. The visual effects mixed with the subtly eerie yet hopeful undertones of the core make the film watchable in a very aesthetically pleasing manner, so they were able to do the series justice in that sense.

Scott was praised for his work on the first two installments, but passed the torch onto director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and writer, Joss Whedon. If he plans on continuing the series, he should seriously consider passing the torch once again because both “Prometheus” and “Alien: Covenant” are forgettable, and tainting a classic image.

Joseph Schlegel